Archive for February, 2011

Certificate Errors

Monday, February 28th, 2011

This is going to be a slightly technical post, but helpful for you if you’re experiencing any “certificate error” issues.

Have you visited Facebook lately and gotten an error like “This is probably not the site you are looking for!”, or something about the certificate being invalid, etc? ¬†Or Gmail? ¬†Or any other site that you’ve used the https:// protocol? ¬†There are a few possibilities for what is going on; I’ll explain three, and how to fix one.

The first, one from which your browser is trying to protect you, is the possibility that someone has hijacked a DNS server or is placing themselves between you and the web site you are trying to reach, pretending to be that web site to eavesdrop on your information. ¬†(The job of a certificate is to prevent that). ¬†This is bad. ¬†You want to heed this warning and stay away from the site, as someone could steal your username, password, or any other information you’re sending to the site.

The second, another from which your browser is trying to protect you, is a virus/spyware program has attempted to hijack the internet traffic from within your own computer.  Install anti-virus/anti-spyware to fix it.

The third (and the one which white I’m going to try to help you) is that your computer’s DNS cache is someone out of date, and that it is trying to access the wrong server (innocently). ¬†I should probably tell you what a DNS server is. ¬†A “Domain Name Server” is a computer that converts domain names (like google.com) into IP addresses (like¬†66.102.7.99). ¬†Sometimes, your computer or browser will cache this information so that your browsing experience goes faster. ¬†If these numbers are out-of-date, however, you’ll get that certificate error. ¬†Here’s how I fix it.

  1. First and foremost, try quitting and reopening your browser.  If going to the website still results in an error, continue to step 2.
  2. Mac: Quit your browser. ¬†Open the Terminal App, and type the following command (without the quotes, of course): “dscacheutil -flushcache”. Reopen the browser.
    PC: Quit your browser. ¬†Open the Command Prompt, and type the following command (again, without the quotes): “ipconfig /flushdns”. ¬†Reopen the browser.

Now, if that doesn’t work, there’s a chance there’s something wrong with your DNS server settings, and you might want to contact your DSL or cable company to get a fix. ¬†Good luck!

Audio…video podcasts?

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

I’ve been considering doing the audio or video podcasts again, but need some help from you guys regarding what to talk about!

Internet. Down again.

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I just got off the phone after talking with Time Warner Cable.  It was a two hour ordeal.  Is my problem solved?  Not entirely, but at least I can access the Internet.  For now.

We have had technicians visit at least 20 times over the last few years, and probably quadruple that in phone calls to try to fix connection problems.  From my experience so far with Time Warner, they have four tiers of support:

  • Tier-1: These are the outsourced support folks. ¬†No matter what your problem is, it’s your router. ¬†Nevermind that it’s brand-new, or that the Internet connection doesn’t work when the computer is connected directly… ¬†Their job is to tell you to reset your router, reset your cable modem, and plug in a computer directly to the modem so they can “run some tests.” ¬†Invariably, they cannot fix the problem, and must send a technician out to help.
  • Tier-3 (there’s no second tier): ¬†These guys are based in the US; they’re the “national” support, meaning they’re probably in Kansas or somewhere in middle America, and have a bunch of tools at their disposal. ¬†They are, however, carefully guarded by the Tier-1 guys. ¬†Therefore, getting through to one of these rainmakers is next to impossible. ¬†If you can social engineer your way into getting transferred to Tier-3, there’s a 90% chance they can solve your problem without a technician.
  • Technicians: ¬†These guys have the worst job. ¬†They have to come over and pretend to know what to fix, when really, they just splice cable and plug stuff in. ¬†They read their case notes, and their general resolution is to replace the modem. ¬†Even if the problem isn’t the modem. ¬†Occasionally, they’ll dig up your front lawn to install a new line.
  • Technician Gods: ¬†The local support who understands the importance of bandwidth vs. packet loss vs. latency. ¬†I was fortunate enough to talk with one of these legends tonight. ¬†BS in computer engineering from CSUN. ¬†Pasadena native. ¬†He “reset the ping count” (yeah, even that’s beyond me), and…for the first time in 10ish years of having cable, gave us a free month of service for our trouble. ¬†And told me to get a different brand of modem.

Anyway. ¬†Obviously, I’m back online, and I hope that a modem change on Monday will solve more woes.

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